healthnutshell: The Extremes of Being a Meat Head Vs. Being a Vegetarian

What kind of meat did Jesus eat?

In 1990 as a skinny 9 year-old boy weighing well under 100 pounds, I was so proud of the fact that I could eat an entire Double Whopper combo meal at Burger King.  I impressed my parents and Italian grandfather every Friday night when, by tradition, we either went there for dinner, or the now extinct Quincy’s- “Home of the Big Fat Yeast Roll”, and I ate more than any of them.

In fact, one of my childhood catch phrases was “I need more meat.  If there’s no meat, it’s just like eating air”.  I was one extreme carnivore.

Much has changed since then.  As I’ve slowly slipped down the slippery slope of eating organically, it only seemed natural that I would eventually become a vegetarian, or at least go through a vegetarian phase.

Oddly enough, the deciding factor in whether or not I should attempt vegetarianism was based a question derived from a tacky 1998 bracelet craze: “What would Jesus do?”  I asked myself, “What did Jesus eat?”

Jesus ate meat.  He absolutely ate fish- he was a fisherman and even performed miracles which involved multiplying fish to feed thousands of his followers.  In fact, every time I’ve read about Jesus eating any kind of meat in the Bible, it’s always been fish.  Of course, knowing that Jesus was Jewish meant that by religious tradition he also ate some lamb and beef.

It’s safe to assume that Jesus ate a lot of fish and just a little red meat.  (But of course, he didn’t eat pork, being a law observing Jew.)   And that’s the basis of the standard I go by: The less legs, the better. 

Zero legs: Fish have no legs, meaning they’re the healthiest kind of meat to eat.  Except predator fish (like sharks), bottom feeders (like catfish, shrimp, crawfish), and shellfish (scallops, clams). 

Two legs: Chickens and turkeys.  They eat seeds, worms, and sometimes small mice.  They aren’t as healthy eaters as salmon and tuna and tilapia, but they’re better four-legged animals.

Four legs: Cows.  They should be fed grass, because feeding them corn causes health problems for them.  But even when we eat organic, grass-fed beef, our intestines aren’t long enough to fully digest the meat.  On the other hand, a true carnivore, like a wolf, has long enough intestines to properly digest the meat for all its nutrients.  As for pigs, they are scavengers, just like a possum or a vulture, so that’s why I am so adamant on not eating pork whatsoever (healthnutshell: No Pork on My Fork).

The less legs, the better.  Except for predators, carnivores, bottom feeders, and shellfish, which all feed on other animals they killed and ate, or the remains of dead animals they found along the way.

I am not a vegetarian, but I only eat animals that are.  Eating animals that are carnivores and scavengers is the problem.  Meat is not a bad thing or unhealthy at all as long as it’s the right kind of meat.  And the right amount of it.

Recently, studies have been popping up that show that Seventh Day Adventists live longer than the rest of us: Their men live 9.5 years longer and their women live 6 years longer.  Aside of limiting alcohol intake, exercising regularly, eating a health amount of good fats (nuts), most Seventh Day Adventists are either vegetarians or near-vegetarians.

http://lifetwo.com/production/node/20070107-longevity-seventh-day-adventists-life-expectancy

http://www.islandpacket.com/2009/05/16/846639/study-finds-seventh-day-adventists.html

While I will not convert my faith, I have converted to the Seventh Day Adventist  lifestyle of limited meat consumption.  Typically, only one of the meals I eat in any given day actually has meat in it.  And even then, it’s tuna, salmon, tilapia, chicken, turkey, and a few times a month, beef. 

But that’s only so good.  Because what good is it to only eat meat once a day if the portion size is too big?  I look at my hand and visualize the size of my hand without fingers.  That’s around 4 ounces of meat, a quarter of a pound.  That is the proper portion size of meat that I will allow myself to eat per day.  Not per meal.

Because if nothing else, by eating more than a fingerless hand’s worth of meat in a day, I am consuming too much sodium.  Because meat equals sodium.  And too much sodium equals heart disease and high blood pressure, which equals heart attack.

Was it easy to become this way? No.  But not because I go around hungry.  Because it takes more deliberate planning of my meals to make a health meal without meat.  But I’m getting it figured out.

I only eat meat at dinner.  For lunch, sometimes I pack a salad, or a rice and been burrito, or even some homemade, whole wheat English muffin pizzas with low-fat cheese.  All with a generous portion of fruit on the side (which I’ll be writing more about soon: Fruit by the Foot.)

For several months now, I’ve been doing this.  And I’m not hungry in between meals because I eat fruit.  And then of course at dinner, I eat meat with green vegetables. 

If I can add 9.5 healthy years onto my life by not being a meat head, it’s worth it to me.

Here’s a post from one of my writer friends that she just posted this morning, which I highly endorse:  http://www.meetmissjones.com/2010/04/real-food-wednesday-journey-to-real-food/

Religious Views on Facebook Profiles

“You gave your life to Jesus Christ… and you were not the same after that.” – “Not the Same” by Ben Folds

It’s interesting to see what people list as their “religious views” on their facebook profiles if they are Christians. Some just simply list “Baptist” or “Protestant”. And many, in an effort to creatively avoid a label, list something like “saved by grace” or “in Christ alone”. And that’s cool.

I’m sure for others, summing it all down to one phrase can be difficult, especially for those who believe in God but not necessarily that Jesus is the only way to Heaven as the Bible teaches and as Jesus himself proclaimed. They are not Christians. But they are not atheists either.

For me, simply listing myself as a Christian is a struggle. Because “Christian” has become somewhat of a watered-down generic term, thanks to the way many non-Christians and non-Americans perceive Christians.

I’m quite familiar with the fact that often non-Christians see Christians as selfish hypocrites, as non-Christians often use some of our worst specimens (or those who claim Christianity) as the model for all of us.

And from a non-American perspective (especially non-Catholic and non-Protestant countries), everyone in America is a Christian. They see influential American pop stars and their famous lifestyles and assume that is Christianity. Britney Spears is suddenly the epitome of what all Christians stand for.

I am a Christian. And I don’t believe that I am better than any person in this world nor do I believe that Christians are better people than any other religious group of people. If anything, I feel quite inferior to most people on this earth. I strive for a more giving spirit, like the kind I see in those who have much less than I do.  I’ve got a long ways to go.

I belong to a Baptist church. That means my ultimate goal in life is to introduce others to Jesus as the only way true to eternal life, by showing them love and truth. And I believe that being baptized is an important outward symbol of the surrendering of my life to God, as Jesus did.

The Baptist denomination best resembles overall what I believe.

But there are some things about the Baptist culture I stray from. For example, I don’t oppose the reasonable consumption of alcohol or feel it’s taboo for a Christian to drink. Yet I share the all the same major spiritual doctrines as Baptists. Therefore I’m a little bit Presbyterian. (My wife and I were married in a Presbyterian church.)

http://wp.me/pxqBU-2I

http://wp.me/pxqBU-2L

And though as a Baptist I’m very aware that I can’t earn my salvation by anything I do on my own, I’m a little bit Catholic because I believe salvation in Christ is more than just saying a prayer for Jesus to save me and then saying “I got saved” and then going to church.

My faith does require “works” in order to prove my faith to be genuine and alive; by serving others- caring for the poor, helpless, lonely, and misunderstood. Because that’s what Jesus was all about.

And that’s something that perhaps has best been taught to me through some of the examples of some of the Catholic saints and missionaries I’ve heard and read about, the most obvious being Mother Teresa.

It troubles me that many Baptist churches are so good about making sure no one in the congregation leaves the service without being given the opportunity to “become a Christian” by saying “the sinner’s prayer”. But afterwards, these confused spiritual infants are often left without being nurtured through discipleship.

Not understanding that so much of their sought-after Heaven is just as much in this life as it is the next. And that it takes serving others to help bring Heaven to Earth.  I really like the way that over the centuries that Catholics have chosen some of the most humble servants as their legendary heroes. Of course I don’t pray to saints, but I’ve learned to admire and attempt to mimic their lifestyles.

I’m a little bit Jewish because I share the Old Testament with the Jews. The Old Testament actually makes up around 2/3’s of the Bible’s content. And of course I don’t eat pork or shellfish (or many other kinds of carnivores, predators, and “bottom feeder” animals) as God instructed the Jews in Leviticus 11.

http://wp.me/pxqBU-jO

I’m a little bit Seventh Day Adventist. They are the health nut freaks of Christianity. Most of them are vegetarians and avoid processed foods and the consumption of sugar (except in the form of whole fruits). Seventh Day Adventists also have a better understanding of resting “on the Sabbath”.  And statistics show they live around 7 years longer than the rest of us believers.

http://wp.me/pxqBU-sf

http://wp.me/pxqBU-q8

So that is my religious status.

When all that is thrown into a blender, arguably it could be said I am closest to being a Baptist who unofficially converted to Messianic Judaism.

Messianic Jews are of Hebrew heritage but unlike other Jews, they accept Jesus as the Messiah. And though I have still yet to prove that somewhere back in my Italian lineage there was a Jew in there (my Mexican grandmother is convinced that’s the case), a person without Hebrew heritage can still convert to become a Messianic Jew.

http://wp.me/pxqBU-i6

Maybe I should just list my religious views as “It’s Complicated”.

Red Food Dye: Red 40 Comes from Petroleum and Crimson Lakes Comes from Scale Insects

Mommy, where does red food dye come from?…

I often feel like Dr. David Banner, who theorized he needed more exposure to gamma rays in order for his body to be able to harness its superhuman strength during a time of an adrenaline-fueled crisis. He therefore took matters into his own hands by using scientific machinery to get a good dose of gamma radiation. Of course, in turn he became the Incredible Hulk.

In the way that he had to scientifically experiment with his own body to test his theory, so have I, in several cases. Today’s report: The Case of Red Food Dye.

Between the ages of 9 and 11, I was a nervous kid. I had nothing to be anxious about. Definitely a happy childhood. But for no apparent reason, at times I would break out into anxiety attacks. I didn’t know why I was so afraid or why I was crying. And I had constant stomach problems. Which helped keep me nervous all the time.

Petroleum = Red 40

Then fortunately through my mom’s circle of Mom Friends, she heard the urban legend that red food dye in Kool-Aid and other kid’s foods was causing health problems in children. So I was banned from red Kool-Aid and any kind of candy or snacks that were the color red, or specifically contained the food dye colors Red 40 or Crimson Lake.

And what was the result?  My anxiety attacks and stomach problems cleared up.

Red 40 (Allura Red AC) has been linked to hyperactivity, ADHD, and even lower IQ’s in children. Turns out, the Red Food Dye Urban Legend is not simply an old wives’ tale. In the UK, Red 40 is planned to be officially phased out by the end of this year in children’s products, including medicine. However, in America, the dye is still approved by the FDA.

What’s so toxic about Red 40? Here’s a clue: It’s derived from petroleum.

Crimson Lake (Carmine) has been linked to severe allergic reactions, even known to cause anaphylactic shock, which is a very serious condition. Europe discourages the use of the dye in its food products, yet has no regulations against it. The American FDA will begin requiring companies to specifically label food products with the dye, starting in 2011.

What’s so toxic about Crimson Lake? It’s derived from female cochineal (scaled) insects. They produce carminic acid, which is a deterrent for their predators. That acid is where the dye gets its official name: Carmine.

Scale insects = Crimson Lake

We eat petroleum and insects every day.  In red licorice.  Big Red chewing gum.  Yogurt.  M&M’s.  If it’s not naturally red, it’s probably Red 40 or Crimson Lake.

But really, is knowing this going to stop us?